What The Elite Player Performance Plan Means For Tottenham Hotspur

Young academy products, like Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Tom Carroll, stand to benefit from the new EPPP rules that take effect next season. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

Something that has gotten a lot of press in England and on a few other SB Nation blogs, but hasn't really been discussed in any detail here is the new Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) the the English FA will implement starting next season. The EPPP is an effort by the clubs in the Premier League and the the FA itself to bring the development of young English talent more in line with that of the rest of Europe.

The EPPP makes a number of changes to the way clubs develop young players. Many feel that these changes will be very detrimental to clubs not playing in the Premier League. Fortunately, Tottenham Hotspur are a Premier League club, but Spurs may still find themselves at a disadvantage because of the EPPP.

One of the biggest changes is the abolition of the "90 Minute Rule", which allowed teams to only sign players under the age of 18 who live within 90 minutes travel of the training facility. Many claimed that Barcelona's ability to recruit nationally was why their academy was so successful and now English clubs will be able to do that as well.

On the one hand, I don't like this change. I like the idea that Liverpool develops talent from Merseyside and Manchester United develops young Mancunians. However, some clubs have their catchment areas reduced in size because of location. It's got to be awful hard on Portsmouth that half of their catchment area is in the English Channel. Additionally, think of how much competition there is for youngsters in London. If Tottenham can suddenly recruit players from all over the country that might be advantageous.

Another big change is the addition of a four-tiered academy system. The academies in the highest categories will be able to sign the best players and command the highest fees. Category 1 academies would require a minimum of 18 full-time staff, an operational budget of £2.5 million, and residential facilities. At present Tottenham would probably not be a Category 1 academy. Clubs like Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester United, however, would be.

In addition to being able to secure the best players Category 1 academies can sign players beginning at age nine, as can category 2 academies. Category 3 allows teams to begin signing players at the age of 12, while Category 4 must wait until players are 16. The status of academies will be reviewed every two years.

Tottenham Hotspur are in the process of upgrading their training and youth academy facilities. The upgrades should be done next season. However, the upgrades do not include residence facilites for young players. Thus, while Tottenham would likely be able to reach the staff and budgetary requirements to become a Category 1 academy, the lack of residences for young players would keep them in Category 2.

Additionally, Premier League teams will be able to sign players from other academies for a small fee based on how long the player has been at the club. No longer will we be subject to tribunals deciding how much a team is owed, like Tottenham dealt with when they signed John Bostock from Crystal Palace. Many clubs in the football league are upset by this aspect of the EPPP, as they feel they will no longer receive fair compensation for the time they have put into young players.

It will likely take several years for the full effects of the EPPP to be felt across England. It remains to be seen how Premier League teams, like Tottenham Hotspur, who won't be Category 1 academies will cope with the new rules. I would expect most of these clubs would invest in their academies to bring them up to par. What is far more interesting, to me, is how the EPPP will affect traditionally powerful academies like Watford and Southampton.

What are your thoughts on the EPPP? Will it help or hurt Tottenham Hotspur? Will these new rules only serve to widen the gulf between the Premier League and the Football League? Most importantly, will these changes help England become more competitive on both the club level and internationally?

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